An experimental flight simulator study was conducted to examine the mental alerting logic and thresholds used by subjects to issue an alert and execute an avoidance maneuver. Subjects flew a series of autopilot landing approaches with traffic on a closely-spaced parallel approach; during some runs, the traffic would deviate towards the subject and the subject was to indicate the point when they recognized the potential traffic conflict, and then indicate a direction of flight for an avoidance maneuver. A variety of subjects, including graduate students, general aviation pilots and airline pilots, were tested. Five traffic displays were evaluated, with a moving map TCAS-type traffic display as a baseline. A side-task created both high and low workload situations. Subjects appeared to use the lateral deviation of the intruder aircraft from its approach path as the criteria for an alert regardless of the display available. However, with displays showing heading and/or trend information, their alerting thresholds were significantly lowered. This type of range-only schema still resulted in many near misses, as a high convergence rate was often established by the time of the subject's alert. Therefore, the properties of the intruder's trajectory had the greatest effect on the resultant near miss rate; no display system reliably caused alerts timely enough for certain collision avoidance. Subjects' performance dropped significantly on a side-task while they analyzed the need for an alert, showing alert generation can be a high workload situation at critical times. No variation was found between subjects with and with out piloting experience. These results suggest the design of automatic alerting systems should take into account the range-type alerting schema used by the human, such that the rationale for the automatic alert should be obvious to, and trusted by, the operator. Although careful display design may help generate pilot/automation trust, issues such as user non-conformance to automatically generated commands can remain a possibility.